Traditionally and by obligation (official colour), the color rosso corsa (racing red) is synonymous with the F1 Ferrari team. While we see an F1 Ferrari of another color as much to be taken aback by it, then if the latter wins the F1 World Championship, we cannot avoid the desire to tell you its story, a story high in color.
By the early 1960s, the Ferrari racing empire was expanding. The 1962 250 GTO, in particular, embodies one of the eminent successes through numerous race victories. A number of road cars had to be built to meet racing criteria. And when FIA officials traveled to Maranello to count the cars, legend has it the number was insufficient – a problem creatively masked during a coffee break when a group of cars were moved elsewhere within Maranello to be counted a second time. Complaints from competing teams to the FIA persisted.
We are in the midst of the 1964 season. Ferrari had another car ready to race, the 250 LM – and to the amazement of the international racing community, the FIA refused to homologate it as a GT, but agreed to homologate it as a prototype, which did not allow Ferrari to compete with it in F1.
Enzo Ferrari was then in full conflict with the Italian Automobile Federation and was even more furious vis-à-vis the ACI, the governing body of Italian motorsport, not inclined to support the team.
Red with rage, the Commendatore returned his competition license to the ACI and swore never to race in a rosso corsa again.
This event occurred just two days before the end of the 1964 F1 season, there are still the races in the United States and Mexico.
However, its drivers are still in contention to win the Drivers' title and Ferrari is at the top of the Manufacturers' classification. Two Grands-Prix from the end of the season, they are still six to be titled: Graham Hill (BRM), Jim Clark (Lotus-Climax), John Surtees (Ferrari), Lorenzo Bandini (Ferrari), Richie Ginther ( BRM) and Bruce McLaren (Cooper-Climax).
The 158 F1 (V8 engine) and 1512 F1 (V12) were nevertheless sent to the other side of the Atlantic. But Enzo Ferrari keeps his promise. Ferrari does not hire its drivers. They entrust their cars to NART, the first Ferrari dealership in the United States.
The Ferraris will thus continue the F1 world championship with an American license, without the Rosso Corsa, but with the American colours: blue and white. Graham Hill and his BRM won at Watkins Glen ahead of John Surtees' Ferrari.
3 Britons for 1 title!
In Mexico during this final round, we knew that the 1964 F1 World Champion would be British! Indeed, three representatives of Her Majesty were fighting for the title: John Surtees, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. The latter will also arrive in Mexico leading the championship with 39 units, against 34 for John Surtees and 30 for Jim Clark. Among the manufacturers, the race had the same stakes since Ferrari led with 43 points, BRM totaled 42 and Lotus 37!
However, the regulations stipulated that a driver could only rely on his best six results from the ten races on the calendar. In doing so, Graham Hill's lead was not as strong as it looked. The conditions for Graham Hill to be titled: he had to win or finish third if John Surtees did not win, if Jim Clark did not win and John Surtees did not do better than third.
John Surtees needed a win or second place if Hill didn't do better than third. For Jim Clark, he had to win hoping that Surtees did not do better than third and that Hill did not do better than fourth.
The race proved to be absolutely thrilling, after twelve laps Hill was on the provisional podium and regained the lead in the title chase. But Lorenzo Bandini, Surtees' teammate at Ferrari, attacked him and the two cars spun before setting off again.
Rid of his engine problems, Surtees took advantage and moved into third position. Graham Hill pitted and returned to the track two laps down.
Still in the lead, Clark saw the situation turning to his advantage. Surtees third and Hill out of the points, he only has to reach the finish on the top step of the podium to clinch the title. At NART, Lorenzo Bandini, whose V12-powered Ferrari 1512 F1 is faster, is allowed to pass John Surtees.
But a dramatic turn of events seven laps from the finish. Jim Clark's Lotus begins to leak oil. On the very last lap of the season, Jim Clark had to stop with a broken engine. Dan Gurney passes and wins. Behind, the blues and whites (and reds) react in seconds. Lorenzo Bandini pulls over to leave second place to John Surtees.
In the end, Dan Gurney won this Grand Prix of Mexico ahead of John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini, making the Ferrari driver the only World Champion on Motorcycles and in Formula 1. He was World Champion in 1964 by one point ahead of Graham Hill (40 points registered by the Ferrari driver, 41 by that of BRM, but 39 retained by the regulations). In 6th place, we can note Pedro Rodríguez on his Ferrari V6, the place where his brother Ricardo lost his life in 1962 on this same track (hence its name: Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez).
The Briton becomes the first driver to win a world title in motorcycle and car (on a two-tone Ferrari: white and blue!)
History will remember that twice only blue and white have replaced red at Ferrari, with the actors: an Italian car, British drivers and American colors, quite a story.
Ferrari's John Surtees to claim title after last-lap drama
Of course the dispute would eventually be resolved and in 1965 Ferraris were racing in red again, and this practice has continued until today.